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2020 Decadal Survey Missions: At a Glance



Any telescope reaching the launch pad in the 2030s is likely to look very different from the concepts currently being used by four teams to host the 2020 Decadal Survey for Astrophysics, but the studies provide a roadmap. Here is a brief overview:

LUVOIR, now being investigated by a team from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is conceived as a large observatory in the tradition of the Hubble Space Telescope. LUVOIR will tell the story of life by looking for signs of life on exoplanets and exploring the cosmic origins of life. His specific skills will extend to the extraordinary science, general astrophysics, and the science of the solar system. As its name suggests, LUVOIR would cover far-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths, and its primary mirror could be up to six times larger than Hubble's.

OST, another concept explored by a Goddard-led team, would be extremely sensitive in the mid- to far-infrared range. Through imaging and spectroscopy, it would explore the early universe, follow the path of water through star and planet formation, and search for signs of life in the exoplanets' atmospheres. Based on the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, OST would offer 1

0,000 times more sensitivity than all previous remote infrared telescopes.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the HabEx study. This observatory would directly represent planetary systems around sun-like stars. By measuring the spectra of these planets, HabEx would look for signatures of habitability, including water, oxygen or ozone. It would also examine the early universe and the life cycle of massive stars. Like LUVOIR, HabEx would be sensitive to ultraviolet, optical and near infrared wavelengths.

Lynx, being examined by the Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama, would study the universe in X-rays. It is expected to offer a two-fold increase in sensitivity over Chandra and the European Space Agency's Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics, Athena, which is scheduled to launch in 2028. It would detect X-rays from black holes illuminating the first galaxies and young stars and their planetary systems.

Related Links

Concepts for the Decadal Astrophysics 2020

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